A man accused of shooting his pregnant ex-girlfriend in the stomach at an East Vancouver print shop last year has been found not guilty of attempted murder.
The woman was six and a half months pregnant at the time. She survived and underwent an emergency caesarean section at Vancouver General Hospital, but the baby died.
The bullet remains lodged in her spine.
Carleton Stevens hunched over and looked around the room as judge Jennifer Duncan read the verdict in B.C. Supreme Court Wednesday morning.
Duncan said it could not be established beyond a reasonable doubt that the bullet fired was intended for the woman, and not a male friend who was sleeping beside her that night.
The bullet struck the man in the arm before hitting the woman in the abdomen.
'I have a doubt': judge
Stevens pleaded not guilty to the May 18, 2018 shooting.
In their opening statement at the start of the trial in October, Crown prosecutors said the victim was sleeping in a loft above the print shop, East Van Graphics.
Prosecutors said she awoke to find Stevens, then 37, standing at the foot of her bed holding a gun at 5:45 a.m. and that he fired directly at the woman's stomach.
The victim and the accused had broken up prior to the incident and Stevens had made threats to the victim before the shooting.
A "struggle" occurred between the two men in the loft that morning, and the bullet went first through the arm of the man sleeping over, court heard.
Duncan said she found testimony from the victims and witnesses credible, but that "feelings of revulsion" must not overweigh legal rigour.
"I have a doubt that the accused intended to shoot at [the victim]," Duncan said.
Advocates critical of outcome
Chandra Corriveau, Stevens' defence lawyer, said the circumstances of the case are "incredibly tragic."
"That discharge resulted in the complainant losing her baby which was notably also the accused's baby," Corriveau said.
"As a result of those circumstances, and that finding of fact, she's not able to conclude that he had the requisite intent for attempted murder."
Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of Battered Women's Support Services, said research shows prior threats and violence against women by their partners — which were a factor in this case — can indicate lethal violence in the future.
"We've seen repeatedly within Canada a decision to not take male violence against women seriously," she said.